Reality Check: What’s wanted in workplaces?

Work and workplace discussions tend to draw out strong opinions. When you consider the numbers of employees who feel poorly treated, employers who feel that their workers don’t care, not to mention the workers who torment their fellow workers, it’s amazing that any work gets done at all!

Could your workplace be improved? Yours would be rare indeed if it’s functioning perfectly. What changes would be helpful? Let’s take a look at the workplace from the perspective of “wants.”

If you are a business owner or manager, what do you think your employees want? The immediate response (for both employees and managers) is often, “More money” or “Time off.”

While lack of money or perks can be a source of dissatisfaction (especially if a worker feels treated unfairly compared to others) rate of pay is not the whole story when it comes to job satisfaction.

According to choice theory, humans have several basic needs. It’s helpful to understand those needs if you’re trying to figure out why folks behave the way they do in the workplace.

Two needs that can be particularly significant in a workplace are:

  • the need for love and belonging
  • the need for power and recognition

If the workplace is one where workers get need satisfaction, they will be happier, may do a better job, and will likely present a more helpful face to those other humans so essential to your business: your customers!

What might you as a manager or owner do to help ensure that the workplace is a need-satisfying place? Here are a few suggestions.

Love and belonging: Satisfying the love and belonging need doesn’t just come from romantic love or deeply connected relationships. Make it possible for folks to feel that they belong to the business, that they are essential to the team. After all, whether you are the owner, manager, or window-cleaner, you are all in this together.

Power and recognition: Many people get satisfaction from doing a great job. If you have those types of employees, ask them, “What can I do to make your workplace a better place for you? What can I do to help you do your job?”

If you’ve never asked these questions before, you may be amazed at what you hear. People have great ideas they are prepared to share, if only you ask and then respond.

If you value your employees and realize that you couldn’t have a successful business without them, say so. When someone goes out of their way to do a good job (even if they have always done that!) say, “Thank you.”

Thank them for their loyalty, their customer service, attitude, whatever. Even (or perhaps particularly) if you think they already know that you appreciate their work, say it. Having your boss tell you that you are appreciated seldom gets old and can go a long way toward satisfying those basic needs.

Next time, we’ll take a look at the workplace from a different perspective; we’ll look at what business owners or managers might want from their employees.

Is your workplace a need-satisfying place? Does that matter to you?

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